This past month I've been fortunate to be invited to several legal community events. For example, I attended the memorial celebrating Jenner & Block's Jerry Solovy, who died in January. I also attended an Illinois Judges Foundation fundraiser and theWomen's Bar Association of Illinois' swearing-in ceremony. Each of these events taught me several important lessons.
When I first started at Chicago Lawyer, Jerry Solovy was one of the first lawyers I profiled. I profiled him as our Person of the Year. We talked numerous times and each time he treated me with respect — despite my newness to covering the legal community. When I heard he died I was saddened because I felt like a true ambassador of the legal profession had died. His reach extended to so many areas of the legal community and that was evidenced by those who attended his memorial.
When I attended the Illinois Judges Foundation event at U.S. Cellular Field I met some of the most friendly people. I am sure that some of these judges are much tougher on the job, but at the event they were so humble and kind. They reminded me of the importance of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer as they described how vital it is for our publications to run photos and stories of the different legal events. Many of them said they feel reconnected to the publications with the increase in stories and photos.
At the Women's Bar event, I felt myself among kindred spirits — men and women who believe that a leader can be a woman. If you look throughout the local journalism world there are not that many female editors. The numbers are not great despite many female journalism pioneers like Nellie Bly and your very own Myra Bradwell. There are still people who I come into contact with who have trouble believing that a female of my age would be running two publications — and sometimes negatively comment on it to me.
When I heard the past and present Women's Bar presidents speak, as well as people like Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, it made me proud of what I do — instead of feeling like I must present my resume to each person who doubts me to prove that I have the "proper" credentials.
At the event I talked with Julie Hamos who sat at my table. While in law school she decided she wouldn't take a conventional path and built a career around areas she found interesting — as a public interest lobbyist, state representative, member of former State's Attorney Richard Daley's staff and now as director of the state's Department of Healthcare and Family Services. She inspired me and reminded me that we don't need to follow a certain path to find joy in our careers.
But truth be told it's a lot easier to create our own paths as women or as those who are diverse when we have people in our corner. For me, it's people like the publisher of the Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer and the owners of Law Bulletin Publishing Co. who have believed in women like me and given us a chance to create our paths to leadership and demonstrate our skills. And for that I will forever be grateful. People like this exist in the legal community too. There are law leaders who encourage diverse and female lawyers.
This month's issue is about diversity. Often in-house legal departments have greater diversity than law firms. The story on page 18 discusses the paths these businesses have taken to improve diversity and organizations like the Association of Corporate Counsel that take a proactive role. Our diversity surveys are scattered throughout the magazine, but the main survey begins on page 26.
We wanted to share SNR Denton's statistics. The firm has, as of Jan. 1: 138 Illinois lawyers; 138 Chicago lawyers; 634 lawyers in the U.S.; 496 outside of Chicago in the U.S. (firmwide); 605 outside the U.S.; and 1,239 firmwide. The firm is ranked 21st in our survey. Latham & Watkins' number of Illinois lawyers should have said 156 last month and 0 contract/staff lawyers.
Please sign up for our magazine's first set of conferences. It gives our columnists a bigger stage to talk about the issues they write about. Called "Off the Pages," our Sept. 20 conference is on getting and keeping business and our Oct. 18 event is about diversity. Sign up at rej.associationsonline.com.